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5 questions to consider when creating a birth plan

Posted December 13, 2021 by Phillip Dayley, D.O.

A pregnant couple sitting together

Whether you’re expecting your first baby or expanding your family, when the day you give birth finally arrives, it’ll be one of the most important in your life. That’s why many expecting parents have a written birth plan ready that outlines their preferences for their big day.

It’s normal to have expectations for how you’d like your birth experience to happen. Discussing your wishes ahead of time with your partner and obstetrician, or midwife helps ensure everyone is on the same page.

While it’s important to review your birth preferences, your provider will ask you to remain flexible in the event something unexpected occurs and plans need to change to help ensure the safe delivery of your baby. If this happens, ask that staff keep you informed of what they are doing and why.

Summa Health outlines how to write a birth plan that’s best for you and your family. Just as you prepare your baby’s bedroom, car seat and play gym, it’s important to prepare for our little one’s big debut, too.

Summa Health makes it easy and offers an online birth preferences form for you to fill out and take with you to your next appointment. Once it’s finalized, have your provider place a copy in your medical record.

5 questions to ask when writing a birth plan

Birth plans summarize your requests for labor, delivery and postpartum care. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, highlight what’s most important to you. Preferences should be specific to what your birthing facility can accommodate. For example, if you’d like to labor in a hydrotherapy tub, make sure the facility offers one.

Include your name, your partner or support person’s name and provider at the top of the document. Birth plans can be as detailed as you want, but be sure to consider and include the following 5 questions:

  • Who would you like present? Determine who you would like to be in the room for labor and delivery. Make sure to check the hospital’s visitation policies as to how man visitors can be present during labor & delivery, as well as postpartum.
  • What ambiance is important to you? Do you want the lights dimmed? Your favorite tunes playing? Would you like the room kept at a certain temperature?
  • How would you like to labor? Indicate if you would like the opportunity to sit on a birthing ball, in a hydrotherapy tub or stand in a warm shower. If being up and moving around during labor is important to you, ask how often the baby needs to be monitored and whether a portable monitor is available.
  • Do you want pain management? Talk to your provider about the choices available for pain relief and during which phase of labor they can be administered. In addition to traditional options like an epidural and narcotics, you can request to use complementary alternatives, such as massage, hot or cold therapy, meditation or breath work.
  • What are your delivery preferences? Want to watch the birth? Ask to have a mirror in your delivery suite. Other details to consider include: if you’d like your partner or support person to cut the umbilical cord, and if you’d like to hold your baby or breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery (when your baby displays hunger cues)

You may include other details such as preferences should you need a caesarean section, if you would like a certified doula to be present during your labor & delivery, your thoughts on an episiotomy, etc.

Some parents also like to include details for after the baby is born. This is a personal preference, but you could also consider the following questions:

  • Do you want the baby’s medical exam procedures given in your presence, your partner’s presence or in the room, when possible?
  • Would you like the facility’s lactation consultant to pay you a visit?
  • Would you like to give your baby their first bath?
  • Do you want your partner or support person to stay overnight with you?

Bring a printed copy of your plan to a prenatal appointment to review with your provider to review together prior to the big day.

You can’t control every aspect of the labor and delivery process, particularly in the case of a high-risk pregnancy. But having a birth plan will give you the opportunity to discuss your preferences on how you’d like your baby’s birth to be handled.


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